ON THE SEVENTH DAY by T.D. Jakes might escape the notice of thriller readers due to the inspirational tone and message that lies at the heart of the book. That would be unfortunate. While not a literary stylist, Jakes writes from the heart, and is first and foremost a storyteller. What he has done here is craft a tale of almost agonizing suspense, utilizing a ticking clock plot device that also marks time on a relationship, the strength of which is strongly tested.
"There are strong components of mystery and suspense in ON THE SEVENTH DAY, but the unifying themes are trust, forgiveness, redemption and, above all, faith."
David Ames is a respected professor and the head of an academic department at Tulane University in New Orleans. His wife, Kari, is a successful real estate agent. As is evident from the opening paragraphs, they take joy in each other and in Mikayla, their four-year-old daughter. There are hints, though, that Kari is concealing a secret from her husband, which keeps their marriage from being totally idyllic. Still, their lives are full and they want for nothing. Everything changes dramatically, however, when Mikayla is abducted from right under Kari’s normally watchful eye. It appears that the kidnapping is the work of the man who has been dubbed The Marrero Killer, a fiend who has taken a number of children, only to murder each one six days after their each abduction.
As the police race against time to find the kidnapper and the victim before the fateful deadline occurs, their investigation reveals shocking aspects of Kari’s past that she had gone to great lengths to conceal from her husband. David is taken aback and embarrassed; he is also angry that his wife never told him about what she had been through, even as his behavior vindicates her reasoning, at least in part. However, Kari is not the only one with secrets. David has a major part of his life that he has concealed from Kari. As the days and nights following the abduction pass with agonizing slowness yet all too quickly, David and Kari must confront their respective secrets --- and each other --- if they are to bring their daughter home safely and preserve their lives together as a family.
There are strong components of mystery and suspense in ON THE SEVENTH DAY, but the unifying themes are trust, forgiveness, redemption and, above all, faith. Understand that there are no miracles performed here; the faith in God that is central to the story is the source of the strength that Kari and David must utilize to get through the multiple crises that will almost certainly rip their marriage asunder. Nevertheless, Jakes’ no-frills narrative keeps things moving and the reader wondering if Mikayla will be recovered. There are several neat and interesting plot twists, as well as some social commentary. Some of Kari’s closest friends turn their backs on her when her past is revealed; David must make a decision as to what is truly important in his life; and Kari, perhaps most of all, must struggle with betrayal and find it in her heart to forgive.
There are many lessons to be taken from ON THE SEVENTH DAY, a novel that is worth seeking out, reading and keeping.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 26, 2012